I am running for city council because I believe my story represents what St. Paul is about. I was born in St. Paul and live here with my wife Jessica and our kids Kaeden (14), Carson (12), and Savannah (10). This is the city where my family works, lives, plays, and volunteers. I believe in the future of our Ward and our City, and our future aspirations must be built on a foundation of the basics.
My youth has taught me endurance, listening to others, and finding areas of commonality is essential to working together. I learned this because of the many places I have lived. As my family spent time relying on public benefit programs, experiencing housing instability, and watching as family members without opportunity struggled, many times I would daydream about different circumstances.
From my childhood, one story stands out to me. In the ninth grade, my family fell on hard times. We were living in a roach-infested hotel, I had a .7 GPA, and I was nearly expelled from school. As part of a class, I took a cognitive test and did very well. I was pulled out of class, learned of my score, and was told I had a lot of ability that I needed to realize. But the environment I was in was not allowing me to reach my potential.
That is when my family moved into a stable home with my grandparents, which was a safe place for us to live, learn, and grow in. It allowed me to graduate high school, work on a shipping dock, and receive my Associates in Arts from a community college. I transferred to River Falls to get a double major in Political Science and History while working as a laborer in an industrial flooring company. It was during this time I developed a passion for public policy and service.
My passion for public service led me to the Minnesota State Senate. As a staffer, I saw the importance of working with all stakeholders, the need to focus on issues that provide the foundation for strong communities and learned that public policy is a great responsibility. I spent nine years in the Senate working on public safety, education, economic and business development, and so many issues families talk about every day. This is where I would pursue the first advanced degree on my father’s side by receiving my Masters in Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.
This prepared me to fight for economic opportunity through entrepreneurship in marginalized communities at the Center for Economic Inclusion. I understand the importance of providing opportunities for everyone regardless of how they look. Owning a home, building wealth in the community, and starting a business that makes neighborhoods thrive is part of our mission.
We love living in Ward 3! That is why I was elected as secretary of the Highland District Council and my wife Jessica volunteers on the Community Engagement Committee. We have had the pleasure of giving away bikes to children, volunteering at puppet shows, and helping with movies in the park.
I also have been appointed Chair of the Neighborhood Safety Community Council in the Office of Neighborhood Safety. As someone that has seen violence in the hallways of the affordable housing I lived in, I know the importance of keeping our community safe. We will provide public safety recommendations to Mayor Carter that invest in youth.